Experience the future of Paris in 3D with Google

PARIS -- Google makes waves in Paris launching a new high-tech Google Earth exhibit to explore the past, present, and future of the city.
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARIS – Google is taking over Paris one project at a time.  Today, the web giant helped launch a new interactive exhibit at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal called Paris, le métropole et ses projets (Paris, a metropolis in the making).  The highlight is a first-ever digital mosaic composed of 48 LED screens that feature 2D and 3D views of Paris through HD Google Earth images.

The American internet giant has been making some noise in France recently.  This spring Google partnered with the journalism department at the prestigious Sciences Po University.  CEO Eric Schmidt recently stopped by LeWeb tech conference held in Paris.  Also last week the enterprise made a new home in the trendy 9th arrondissement as head of operations for Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East as well as a research institute.  French president Nicolas Sarkozy even dropped by to help with the inauguration.

Now Google is leaving its mark for the public to experience at the Pavillion de l’Arsenal.  Paris, le métropole et ses projets is composed of over 1000 documents selected by architect Philippe Simon to explore Paris’s complex structural history.  From the earliest roots as a town along the river Seine to its engineering marvels build for 19th century world fairs, the exhibit is a new interactive way to learn about the city.

The exhibit also includes a multitude of screens, a 3D diorama of the entire city, and historical maps tiling the floor.  All textual presentations are in both French and English.

The standout feature, however, is Google’s Paris Métropole 2020 feature, one of the first public projects to bolster the web company’s presence in the capital.  The innovative exhibit uses Liquid Galaxy technology to allow visitors to explore the future buildings, neighborhoods, and transportation networks as envisioned by today’s architects.  Using a tactical control panel, participants will have the chance to explore 3D versions of new landmarks including the new symphony house as well as the controversial renovation of Les Halles district.

A handful of people turned up this morning for the opening.  Amongst some slight confusion about how the LED mosaic worked and which tactile screen controlled it, the response seemed positive.

“We saw it in the Métro paper this morning and we decided to come.  It was very well presented,” said local Jérôme Dont.  He said it wasn’t a very surprising or revealing exhibit since he knows Paris, but the interactive map was certainly eye-opening.

Coline Ponneau agreed. “The giant screen was more interesting than all of the little panels,” she said, after her visit.

The entire exhibit, including the 37m2 screen mosaic, has found a permanent home at Pavillion de l’Arsenal but of course will be constantly updated.  Entry is free and a version of the project will soon be available online here for those who can’t get to Paris.

Photo: Bryan Pirolli

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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